Students competing in robotics contest

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Educational Outreach Office will support the FIRST Robotics Competition’s Miami Valley Regional Thursday, March 1 through Sunday, March 3 at the Ervin J. Nutter Center, on the campus of Wright State University.

The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is a unique varsity sport of the mind designed to help high-school-aged students experience science and technology in a competition that feels more like the NCAA Final Four than a science fair. The competition challenges young people to work with mentors and in just six weeks: strategize, design, manufacture, program and test a 120-pound industrial sized robot to play a pre-defined game. This year’s game, FIRST POWER UP, centers around a vintage arcade game where the robots are the players in the game.

“The robots this year will be transporting power cubes, running scales and switches, ‘levitating’ at the end of the game and competing against each other for the chance to challenge ‘The Boss’ atop a six-foot tower,” said Katie Dunn, assistant regional director and Educational Outreach Office FIRST Robotics Competition program manager at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. “Sounds a little crazy, right? You’ve really got to see it to believe it!”

The competition is designed by world-famous inventor Dean Kamen, MIT professor emeritus Dr. Woodie Flowers and a committee of creatively minded innovators.

Ohio has 65 teams and two regional competitions. The first event — the Miami Valley Regional at the Nutter Center will host 60 teams from an 11 state area. Local teams participating are: #3138 the Innovators Robotics a community team, #5811 the BONDS a community team, #6032 the West Carrollton Pirates, and #6936 the Beavercreek Vault. Ohio’s second regional on March 28-31 at Cleveland State’s Wolstein Center will host 55 teams from 10 states. The events will bring together teams of the nation’s brightest high school students who will demonstrate their engineering and problem-solving skills, critical thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship and sense of community.

Thursday, March 1 will consist of team registration and practice matches. Qualification matches will be played all day Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3. Elimination matches (akin to the playoffs and Super Bowl) will be played Saturday afternoon. Activities run from about 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. The entire three-day competition is free and open to the public.

“Since 2016, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force base has been the supporting FIRST Robotics Competition by providing funding and volunteers to help with the program,” said Dunn. “Our goal is to get students excited in STEM. This program is fabulous and is proven to increase the chances of these students entering and succeeding in STEM fields.”

From the FIRST Robotics Competition’s Miami Valley Regional, six teams will advance to the World Championship held in Detroit in April. For more information about the Miami Valley Regional and FIRST® Robotics Competition, visit, or you can get a glimpse of this program with this short video.